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Mark McClemont's story

Mark McClemont

I have been at Reading since 1987; I started out as a Lab Technician and in the early '90s I got the opportunity to become a glassblower. I'm the only glassblower on campus. I design, make, modify and repair scientific laboratory glassware for both teaching and research for the School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy and other University departments, as well as outside companies. It's particularly satisfying to make a custom piece of glassware for researchers and get involved in the design process, which can involve multiple iterations to achieve a successful result.

My time is shared between glassblowing as part of the Operations Infrastructure team and the Cluster 1 Chemistry team where I am primarily involved with providing technical support for undergraduate teaching laboratory classes.

I've got a very friendly working environment. Diversity and inclusion is something the University wholeheartedly embraces, which is great and is something I try to contribute to. I am involved with the Technical Services Diversity & Inclusion Working Group and was part of the Athena Swan self-assessment team which was successful in achieving a Silver award for Technical Services. I am a member of the LGBT+ Staff network and have helped with the University's stall at Reading Pride. As part of the University's Wellbeing Peer Support network, I am an Adult Mental Health First Aider and one of the Wellbeing Peer Support volunteers.

I am asexual and have been involved in visibility work for AVEN (the Asexual Visibility and Education Network), of which I'm a member. This has involved TV and radio appearances and contributing to newspaper and magazine articles. When the University was applying to become a Stonewall Diversity Champion, I went to meetings to raise awareness of the asexual community. This resulted in the Staff and RUSU LGBT Plus organisations holding an Asexual Awareness Week, to which I was happy to contribute. Asexual people are thought to make up about 1% of the population, which means there could be somewhere between 30 and 40 asexual people working at the University, even more in the student population. I think it's important there's visibility for asexual people, and those who think they may be asexual, in particular, to have someone to talk to who is asexual.